How To Choose The Right Wood Heater

March 27, 2015
How To Choose The Right Wood Heater

Winter evenings spent in front of a log fire have long been a staple of Australian life – and for good reason. The Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA) says not only is the romantic ambience created by wood heating all but impossible to beat, it’s also an environmentally responsible solution to keeping your home warm and cosy. With winter fast approaching, it’s the time of the year when AHHA General Manager Demi Brown is reminding consumers considering buying a wood heater that it should display a compliance plate that certifies it meets Australian emissions standards.

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“Opting for a clean-burning wood heater also ensures you have an environmentally responsible and viable heating option for your home,” Mrs Brown said. “You should also consider your personal heating needs as wood heaters provide heat in several ways and it’s important to get it right for your home. They are available in a wide range of models that vary in output from small units intended to heat a single room to very large units with the capacity to heat larger homes. When selecting a wood heater ensure you consider your home’s design, insulation levels and the length of time the heater is to be operated – these are all questions that can be answered by your local AHHA member.”

Mrs Brown – who heads the peak industry body representing the manufacturing, retailing and installation, maintenance and firewood sectors of the wood heating industry throughout the country – said wood heaters provide heat in one or a combination of the following ways:

  • Freestanding radiant wood heaters transfer about one third of their heat output by convection and about to two thirds by radiation. Radiated heat will warm the surface of objects such as floors, ceilings, furniture, walls and people that face the wood heater. These heaters operate by sending their heat out in all directions and have very hot surface temperatures.

  • Freestanding convection wood heaters distribute their heat by convective currents and transfers and about one third by radiation. They have a ventilated casing around the firebox. This is either metal or tiled. In some instances, the convective air flow is increased by the use of in-built electric fans.

  • Fireplace inserts are wood heaters specifically designed for installation within a masonry fireplace. Inserts are commonly used to convert open brick fireplaces, which are usually unable to produce sufficient heat. This type of conversion ensures that most of the heat is delivered to the room instead of being trapped in the masonry structure, or wasted through the chimney.

Pellet heaters, multi-fuel heaters and in-built heating units are among a myriad of other choices available for Australian consumers.

“There’s too many to discuss in great detail, but I encourage anyone considering buying a wood heater to speak to an AHHA member in their area, who can give them advice on what would best suit their home,” Mrs Brown said.

Opting for a clean-burning wood heater also ensures you have an environmentally responsible and viable heating option for your home, Mrs Brown said.

Almost 100,000 families throughout the country use wood heating and there are more than 300 heater models on offer in Australia.

“These models are tested and approved to meet Australia’s tough standards,” Mrs Brown said. Burning wood for warmth is satisfying – it takes a little extra effort, yes, but like tending a garden or cooking a meal, you are always rewarded. The best way to get the most out of your heater is to be responsible – correctly operating your heater is just as important as installing a wood heater that meets the Australian Standard for wood heater emissions.”

The AHHA’s top tips for the proper use of wood heaters are:

  1. Firelighters, kindling wood and paper should be used to get the fire started. Larger pieces of wood should only be added after a hot bed of coals has been established.
  2. A wood heater will burn better with three or four smaller logs rather than one or two large ones.
  3. Leave air controls open for at least 15-20 minutes to start the fire burning and when re-loading.
  4. Remember that a little air supply overnight avoids a lot of smoke. Don’t close the air supply totally overnight.
  5. Allow enough fresh air for efficient combustion, while at the same time closing doors and curtains in your house to conserve heat. Getting the balance right is important.
  6. Ensure your heater is properly installed by someone qualified to do so and that it is the right size for its intended purpose.
  7. Have your wood heater serviced each year in spring or early summer.

“Never use petrol, kerosene or oil to start the fire. You should only burn dry, well-seasoned hardwood from a reputable supplier,” Mrs Brown said.